It’s almost become a running joke that the Detroit Lions can’t seem to ever get their starting offensive line healthy. This year, every single starter along the offensive line has missed at least one game outside of right tackle Penei Sewell. But as Detroit comes out of the bye this week to face the Los Angeles Chargers, it appears the entire group is prepared to play together. And they’re ready to finally show what they can do.
“We’re finally back. The band’s back together. It’s time to put on a show,” left guard Jonah Jackson said on Tuesday.
Jackson—a Pro Bowler in 2021—has missed the most time of the group. In the first quarter of Week 5’s game against the Carolina Panthers, he had defensive tackle Derrick Brown land on his leg, causing a high ankle sprain that has held him out of the past three contests.
“I was getting some heavy FOMO. It was getting bad,” Jackson said. “So I’m really excited to be back out there with the guys. They were holding it down while I was out, so it’s time for me to come back in and hold up my end of the bargain.”
As Jackson alluded to, the Lions offensive line has played well while scrambling to sport a healthy line. Graham Glasgow, initially a reserve lineman, has started at every interior spot. Rookie Colby Sorsdal has filled in at both offensive tackle and right guard, and they’ve had to even call up Dan Skipper from the practice squad to patch holes.
“Kudos to Graham. He’s played all over. Started training camp at center, right guard, left guard. He’s playing his tail off,” Jackson said. “I think he might be playing some of the best ball in the room. So big props to him. (Kayode Awosika) Yode, Colby, those guys are balling. It just goes to show the standard we hold ourselves to in that room. The next man up mentality is huge.”
Through nine weeks, the Lions have given up the sixth-fewest amount of sacks, and they rank and 10th in rushing yards per carry. But with a fully-equipped offensive line, they believe there’s even more meat on the bone for this offense.
“It just gives us that continuity that we’ve used to with those guys throughout training camp and the majority of the season,” quarterback Jared Goff said.
This is a good week to get healthy along the offensive front, too, as the Chargers boast a talented defensive line. Led by Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, Los Angeles currently is tied for second in the NFL with 31 sacks and rank sixth in the league in yards per carry allowed in the run game.
“They’re a great front,” Jackson said. “They’ve got the two edge guys and then they’ve got those big dogs in the middle. They emphasize on stopping the run. They’re like sixth in the NFL, and then they’re like top-five in sacks, so it’s a good unit vs. another good unit. So it’s going to be a good battle.”
Detroit’s offense will likely also get another big weapon back: starting running back David Montgomery, who has missed the past two contests with a rib injury. Combine him with rookie back Jahmyr Gibbs—who had 220 rushing yards in those two games—and Detroit could have one of the best rushing duos in the league.
“That’s a little scary sight. You’ll see it come Sunday,” Jackson said.